A Forbes Magazine study reported that religion is good for individuals and society. People who attend religious services weekly add seven years to their life expectancy, have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure, as well as less depression and substance abuse. They graduate at higher rates than their non-religious peers. Society benefits as the religiously-active who commit fewer crimes, stay employed, and stay off welfare at higher rates than others. One sociologist states that the American economy benefits by $2.6 trillion because so many in our nation are religious. Religious people also self-report as being markedly happier, stay married at higher rates, and are financially better-off than the non-religious.
Yet all these earthly benefits do not guarantee an eternal reward. It is very possible that active adherence to religion can actually keep people out of heaven if they believe that their good lives on earth are earning them a place in God’s celestial city. So says the Apostle Paul in today’s text. The religion of his upbringing and education did make people morally better than the cultures around them. This benefitted them, their families, their finances, and their communities. But it failed to and actually impeded many from seeking a Savior Who could forgive their failings and bring them with Him into heaven.